Thursday, September 21, 2023

Law-giver or scribe?

Most comparisons of the Bible’s legal literature with ancient Near Eastern law codes, specifically the Code of Hammurabi, typically cast Moses as the lawgiver (Hammurabi) and Yahweh as the transcendent divine sponsor (Shamash). However, in the epilogue of the Code the following appears: “Laws of justice which Hammurabi, the wise king, established. A righteous law and pious statute did he teach the land. Hammurabi, the protecting king am I.” In the biblical text, no such statement is ever attributed to Moses; the law is established by Yahweh, the decrees are Yahweh’s, and the refrain throughout is “I am Yahweh.” Yahweh is the lawgiver; Moses is merely the scribe.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 120–21 n. 3

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